After the World Health Organization (WHO) this week advised travelers to avoid Toronto over the SARS epidemic, CoreNet Global — an Atlanta-based trade group of corporate real estate executives — cancelled its five-day summit scheduled to take place there May 3. Because of the "indefinite nature" of the SARS epidemic, the group said it was difficult to reschedule the event in Toronto at a later time.

"Our first and foremost concern was for the health and safety of our members," said Peggy Binzel, president and CEO of CoreNet, in a written statement.

On April 15, CoreNet had affirmed its decision to hold the summit in Toronto, despite the rising number of SARS cases reported in the area. The conference had an expected attendance of 2,000 executives.

The WHO has changed its stance on Toronto, which only last week was being praised as a role model for effectively containing the illness. But a rising number of SARS infections prompted the WHO to downgrade their opinion of the city by warning travelers to avoid the city.